‘Unpregnant’ is hoping to ‘destigmatize’ and ‘normalize’ abortion with this buddy comedy. HL spoke EXCLUSIVELY with director Rachel Lee Goldenberg about her journey to creating this extremely vital movie.
Unpregnant is now streaming on HBO Max. The movie follows 17-year-old Veronica, performed by Haley Lu Richardson, who finds out she’s pregnant. She finally ends up taking a 1000-mile highway journey along with her ex-best pal, Bailey (Barbie Ferreira), to get an abortion with out her mother and father’ permission. Alongside the best way, Veronica and Bailey rekindle their friendship and face loads of wild shenanigans.
HollywoodLife talked EXCLUSIVELY with director Rachel Lee Goldenberg about her mission with this movie to attempt to “destigmatize” abortion. As somebody who’s enthusiastic about reproductive rights and has had an abortion herself, Unpregnant may be very private to Rachel. She additionally mentioned how her tour of Deliberate Parenthood influenced one of many film’s most vital scenes.
You had labored with Haley previous to this mission. Was she at all times somebody that you simply had in thoughts for the function of Veronica?
Rachel Lee Goldenberg: Since I labored with Haley, I’ve been ready for the appropriate factor to work along with her on once more. This was the proper factor, so I used to be so excited to deliver her in. She and I did some work on the script, and I used to be capable of tailor the function to her. The aggressive ballerina sequence was based mostly on her being a dancer and us collaborating to determine what that may be that she’d be doing there. She’s simply such an ideal companion.
With Barbie, that is her first movie credit score. Did you uncover her from Euphoria?
Rachel Lee Goldenberg: Sure, I had seen her on Euphoria. I’m a fan of the present and a fan of hers. However she got here in and blew me away. I believe simply figuring out her and Euphoria, that is such a unique function. She’s so humorous and so expressive. I felt actually fortunate to have discovered her, after which we did chemistry reads with the 2 of them. I couldn’t imagine their chemistry collectively, how a lot they genuinely love one another, and the way they play off one another. I really feel just like the casting of this film is all the things, and I’m so happy with them.
The chemistry between them is so obvious. They only mesh and click on so nicely. What was that like for you being behind the digital camera witnessing this bond rising over the course of filming?
Rachel Lee Goldenberg: It was actually candy usually because it was actually was on and off digital camera. It was a tough shoot. It was chilly. We have been taking pictures motion sequences, and it wasn’t at all times straightforward. They have been so supportive of one another. As quickly as we reduce, they have been like hugging half the time. It was actually only a candy dynamic that performed out each behind the digital camera and on-screen.
I’m an enormous fan of your work with Valley Lady. Why did you need to tackle this mission?
Rachel Lee Goldenberg: I’ve a few causes. So I’m actually enthusiastic about reproductive rights, and I need to normalize and de-stigmatize abortion. Moreover, I like motion pictures that form of aren’t simply outlined and have so much to dig into cinematically, so the truth that I may make a film that took inspiration from Thelma & Louise, Planes, Trains and Vehicles, Mad Max: Fury Highway, and Get Out, it was such a pleasure to get to play with all these genres and play with tone and have all of it form of dwell on this mattress of this character dynamic I actually cared about and this political challenge that I actually care about.
One of the vital scenes to me is when Veronica is listening to the reason of the abortion process. I really feel like I’ve by no means actually seen that defined to me in TV or movie. It’s at all times shrouded in doom and gloom. Was that scene your method of destigmatizing abortion and the secrecy surrounding it?
Rachel Lee Goldenberg: So I’ve had an abortion, however I had a capsule abortion, so I wasn’t that aware of the surgical abortion course of. I really went to a Deliberate Parenthood, obtained a tour of the ability, and obtained walked via all of the phases. As I used to be there, I had this revelation that truly how little I knew about this course of was a part of the issue. I wished to deliver that to an viewers. I obtained this concept of we must always really see each room that I’m studying about. I might love to indicate the viewers each room and form of really feel such as you’re occurring this journey along with her. It’s not some thriller that we have now to cover away, and when the nurse calls her we reduce and by no means see what occurs once more. I actually wished it to be past that journey.
Why do you assume abortion is commonly pursued in a unfavorable method in TV and movie?
Rachel Lee Goldenberg: I want that it wasn’t. I believe really this yr I’m proud to be one of many few movies which are tackling this challenge as a result of I believe that the purpose is that it shouldn’t be this tough to have entry to abortion. The truth that there are these motion pictures being made to indicate how severe of an issue that is, I personally really feel very, very anxious in regards to the restrictive legal guidelines and the way it’s changing into stigmatized. I’m completely satisfied to only current a movie the place Veronica is aware of what she needs to do, after which the exhausting half is how does she really get to do that factor in a rustic the place it’s authorized to do it?
A number of months earlier than the film was made Missouri, the place Veronica is from, dominated that the final abortion clinic there was not going to shut. Was that ruling at the back of your head as you began filming a couple of months later?
Rachel Lee Goldenberg: I control all of the totally different laws, and I’m caught up in it emotionally about simply conserving entry out there. I’m clearly grateful that one clinic is offered, however I simply assume it’s such an issue. It’s form of beautiful how unhealthy of a problem it’s. Even after I first learn the ebook, I used to be like, “This actually can’t be proper. Is 1000 miles the closest place that she will go?” My writing companion and I researched every state. If you happen to’re underneath 18 and don’t have your mother and father to take you that’s what you must do. I used to be shocked by that. I’m completely satisfied to verify different folks know that it’s an issue.
One in all my favourite traces within the movie was when Veronica says that “the truth that you must get your permission out of your mother and father to have an abortion however not really give beginning.” I maintain listening to that line over and over…
Rachel Lee Goldenberg: I’ve to offer credit score the place credit score’s due. That’s one thing that Greg Berlanti stated to me in my first assembly with him, and I saved it away to go within the film.
One of the poignant scenes within the film is the scene when Veronica will get again and has that scene along with her mother. I like that the love remains to be there, however they have been on opposing sides of the difficulty. You could possibly have simply not had that scene. Why was that scene vital so that you can have within the movie?
Rachel Lee Goldenberg: I believe it’s fascinating to current totally different opinions to current totally different sides. That is Veronica’s story in that she will’t inform her mother and father, however then on the finish, she will get to a degree of consolation with herself and with what she’s doing that she needs to inform her mother. As a storyteller, I’m working via it — okay, so now she’s at a spot the place she’s going to inform her mother, however we all know her mother doesn’t agree with this. The place does that lead us? It was form of natural coming from the place the characters are and presenting how they really feel. It was actually one of many issues that I hadn’t anticipated however what has been so fascinating for me is that via making this movie a ton of individuals have introduced their tales of abortion, both their very own or different folks’s or their experiences with it or their opinions on it, and it’s been fascinating to listen to everybody’s tales. I believe that is one thing folks need to discuss and simply really feel like they don’t have permission to speak about, so I’m completely satisfied to be a part of that dialog.